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IFoS Strategy: Mains + Interview (Optionals – Agricultural Engineering and Forestry) – By Jamir Sheikh, Rank 18 (2018)


IFoS Strategy: Mains + Interview

(Optionals – Agricultural Engineering and Forestry)

By Jamir Shaikh, Rank 18 (2018)


Hello friends, I am writing this article because many students are asking about strategy and sources for Agricultural Engineering and Forestry optionals. I will divide this article in four sections, first two for optional, one for English and GK and last one for interview. I am posting here some images of books so that it will be easy to understand. So, let us start,

Agricultural Engineering Optional

This was my second mains of forest exam. In 2016 attempt, I scored 200 marks in AE optional (P1-85 and P2- 115). I attempted hardly 300 marks questions as I was not well prepared and had studied only for 10 days that too very selectively (Thanks to Santosh sir who taught me on phone). But this year, I was left with 2.5 months for forest mains after my state mains, so I studied from basic books as mentioned below. I also wanted to tell you that my graduation is B.Tech in Agricultural Engg. , so I was little bit confident about my subject.

Book list-

Paper 1-

  1. Soil and Water Conservation IFoS strategy2. Irrigation and Drainage

IFoS strategyPaper 2

  1. Farm power and Machinery

upsc forest services strategy

2. Agricultural Process Engineering

upsc forest services strategyAbove mentioned books are basic sources for AE optional. Apart from that, certain reference sources can be used like Principles of AE written by T.P Ojha and and A.M. Michael (Volume 1 and 2), and PDFs and YouTube videos made available by IIT Kharagpur and Tamil Nadu Agricultural university.

For certain topics like computer and electronics one can use internet very selectively.

To get good marks in this subject, one must keep previous 10 years question papers handy. Keep studying subjects in the light of past years question papers. Now a days competition is tougher so one must do answer writing practice as much as possible before hand. Some repetition of questions will be there, so if aspirants have readymade answers available then it will help them to fetch more marks.

I scored this year P1- 121 and P2- 131 (Total- 252), 52 marks more than my previous attempt which helped in improving overall marks.


Forestry Optional-

In 2016 attempt, I got very less marks (159/ 400) due to my lack of understanding of forestry subject. This year I improved on it and I secured 243/400.  It means, I got 84 marks more that previous attempt. (I would have scored more as I committed some silly mistakes during exam which were totally avoidable). My strategy was simple. I referred basic books written by L.S. Khanna as shown in image below,

IFoSAlong with that, some chapters from Forest Management book written by Ram Prakash.

This subject is very scoring but condition is that one should remember botanical name of trees and good diagrams. To get better marks, use case studies and examples in your answers. Just referring K. Manikandan and Prabhu will not be good idea at all considering the popularity of subject. One must write something different and you will get that from basic books. Book written by K. Manikandan and Prabhu is in notes format, so one can use that book ones your basics are cleared from L.S.Khanna book. (Still some people go for short cut by reading only notes of other toppers to save time and it’s their choice. If they are lucky they will get good marks also).

If possible, keep writing answers daily or weekly basis just to check whether you can write better answers or not. And you can get them evaluated from your friends/seniors/teachers.


In 2016 attempt, I got only 120/300 marks whereas average score was above 135. I got very less marks in this easy subject and I decided to improve this year. As I was not good at grammar and formats of letter writing, précis writing, report writing etc., every alternate day for 2 months, I was writing something related to English for 30 min. Also, I watched some videos on YouTube to understand grammar rules. I bought English Book from market to get some idea about different formats. Even some of my friends like Suraj, Himanshu, Vijay, and Sagar Pawar (IFoS 2016, AIR-13) helped me in this subject.

This is very simple subject but one should practice previous year’s papers beforehand. I got 145/300 this year which is a decent score. I had a fear for this subject as I never got good marks (In CSE main’s English paper) but I practiced this year to improve my marks in this subject which last time I could not do.

IFoS UPSCBasic English book to get good formats of different sections in paper.


General Knowledge-

This paper is very easy for those who are writing civil mains because basics and current affairs will be covered easily. I got 150/300 in 2016 as I wrote civil mains that year. But this year as I did not study for mains, my marks got reduced to 117/300. This year many aspirants got less marks in GK may be due to tough checking this year (I should not give excuse but it might be the case as people who scored more than 140 last year even they got less than 110).

 For this paper, those who are writing civil mains they can avoid any specific practice, but those who are only writing forest exam, they should keep reading news paper and basic books for subjects mentioned in the syllabus. Aspirants should do answer writing practice, who don’t have experience of writing mains answers. This is a scoring subject so do not under-estimate its importance.


This is the best phase of all preparation stages because no one knows exactly what works in interview. Some people will keep studying too much and will be busy in mocks with friends or in different institutes whereas some will be too much confident about their interview so they avoid specific preparation. I got 165/300 marks in 2016 attempt whereas I got 180/300 in 2018 attempt. I was less tensed this year compared to 2016 attempt because I was not bothered about success or failure this year (Because I failed already many times so it was normal for me now).

In 2016-

I was scared about my level of preparation and not confident about my English fluency (as hardly I spoke in English till that time). I faced many financial troubles during that year so I could not remain stress free during whole process. I appeared for only one mock at Sankalp which was ok-ok type. But I had confidence about my performance. Interview went on for 40 to 45 minutes but I could not answer many questions related to forestry and some related to my graduation. Mr. Saxena sir was the Chairman of Interview Board and he awarded me an average score.

In 2018

Everybody this year was supporting me wholeheartedly so that, I could not feel financial stress. I travelled by air, wore suit for interview and I was more confident about English as I was speaking in English most of the time with few of my friends like Vijay kumar DM, Vinanth, Jaya etc. I gave one mock at KSG which was not good. I had registered at sankalp for mock but I experienced something wrong so I decided not to appear for mock. So, this year also only one mock I gave, but as I told earlier, I was confident from inside and having just one thought in my mind that ‘I am the best’ and ‘I have given my best at all level’. These positive thoughts made me comfortable during my actual interview. This time Mr. Bassi sir was the Chairman of interview board and interview went well (approx. 30 min) except last 2 questions. But I managed to keep myself calm and positive throughout interview. I got 180 marks this year which is a decent score.

Suggestions for Interview-

  1. Thoroughly prepare your DAF (Detailed Application Form)
  2. Practice speaking in front of mirror if you are a shy person because I used to do this in 2016. It helps a lot.
  3. Prepare some expected question’s list and prepare answers beforehand in pointers format, so that you will remember content. Don’t mug up answers as it is in sentence format, it may backlash if you don’t remember them due to stress in actual interview.
  4. Avoid more mocks because in mocks there is hardly 10 to 30 percent reality compared to actual interview and it may bring sense of fear or overconfidence in some aspirants.
  5. Choose best institutions for mock so that feedback will be genuine. Considering the UPSC market even the person who could not qualify prelim is guiding interview candidates. So be careful about guidance and their feedback. Avoid such people who never appeared before interview panel because they are guiding on the experience of others and not their own which might hamper your confidence level.
  6. Be presentable and positive, this is very important to feel other people to communicate with you. Because no one likes negative people.
  7. Be confident about yourself and your efforts. Do not try to be a perfect person because it is impossible. Be practical, humble and optimistic in daily routine then only it will be a part of your personality. You cannot change your personality traits in short time of one week or one month. If you are thinking to appear for this exam, just find out areas in your personality to be improved on and start deliberate efforts every day.

This exam process will change your personality altogether. And my experience says that you will not get through easily this exam ( one will either stuck in mains or interview) until you have some minimum basic personality traits like, learning attitude, optimism, humility, communication competence (writing plus speaking), and basic manners and etiquettes required in daily life. I am not saying that one cannot qualify if anything is missing but your chances will suddenly increase if you have these qualities. So try to make them your part of personality then you will get good response from all sides no matter which areas you are working in.

My Marksheet

shaikh jamir munir IFoS topper marksHope this small effort of writing detailed article will clear basic doubts of students aspiring to write forest exam.

I am providing my email id here so that aspirants who still have doubts they can contact me.

All the best for all..!!